According to a recent study, only half of the US schoolchildren get the recommended nine hours of sleep during the week. The statistics are not very different for kids in other age ranges. Although they need 14 to 15 hours of sleep per night, most infants get 12.7 hours on average. Toddlers get one hour less, although they need about 13 to 14 hours of sleep.
Loss of sleep in kids can result in anxiety, decreased focus, irritability, and even mental and physical health problems. To be happy, energized, and ready for new challenges, children need to get quality shuteye every night. Here’s how to help your little ones fall asleep faster and stay asleep until morning without interruptions.
Encourage Playing and Physical Activity
After a day at school or kindergarten, many kids have a habit of sitting down in front of the TV, computer, or tablet. Some of them play games or watch Youtube on their smartphones. It’s natural for kids to want to take a break, but physical activity helps both kids and adults wind down, and it is certainly better for sleep than staring at a device.
Of course, not all children like the same activities. Talk with your child and see what the best choice of physical activity is. Some kids might enjoy dancing more than anything, others like sports, and most will enjoy outdoor adventures. However, considering that we’re in a challenging period in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, you’ll have to turn to some at-home playtime alternatives.
Go Unplugged Before Bedtime
Most modern-day parents grew up watching cartoons right before bedtime, and you might likely create a similar experience for your kids. This is a common mistake, however, because blue light exposure can prolong the time children (as well as adults) need to fall asleep. Furthermore, it can even cause interruptions once they do fall asleep.
The transition from the state of being awake to the “dreamworld” is much smoother after a soothing bath or bedtime story. This is a bit more complicated when it comes to older kids and teenagers, but you can schedule an automatic shutdown of their smartphones and help them find interesting books for their age.
Find out Why They Can’t Sleep
When your child can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, try to figure out what might hide behind this issue. Sometimes the reason is as simple as being too excited or not having had enough physical activity during the day. Other times, the cause of a lack of sleep in children can be a stressful or traumatic event. Children can also have physical demonstrations of sleep issues, such as night terrors, wetting the bed, snoring, and sleepwalking. Getting to the root of their sleep problem is the first step to tackling it and finding a solution for better sleep in the future.
Make Their Room Comfy
We need our bedroom to be an oasis for rest, and children are no different.
First and foremost, keep in mind that clutter is the enemy of sleep. Imagine them finally accepting to go to bed and seeing their favorite toy on there. This would prolong your troubles for at least half an hour.
Secondly, the room temperature should be around 65 degrees. A completely dark room is the best environment, but most kids will feel more comfortable with a nightlight, which is completely fine too.
Finally, make sure they’re sleeping on a supportive mattress and soft, comfy bed sheets.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
Bedtime and waking time should be approximately the same each day. This will maintain your child’s internal clock in a stable pattern. Don’t fall into the trap of changing that time too drastically during the holidays and the weekends, because it will easily disrupt the rhythm you’ve been working steadily to get into.
Naps also have an impact on the sleep cycle. There are two “napping rules” to follow: keep the naps short (up to 20 minutes) and make sure they’re never late in the afternoon.
Keep Their Tummy Full, but Not Too Full
Going to bed hungry is never a good thing, especially for kids. But going to bed stuffed with a heavy meal is even worse because the digestive system is deprived of the time it requires to process that meal. Children should have a satisfying evening meal but at a reasonable time (about two or three hours before bedtime). The choice of the meal is also important, so make sure you don’t serve foods high in fat or processed and fried meals.
Kids need to sleep well – for their own good and for your peace of mind too. These tips will help you help them get the much-needed shuteye.